A Florida native agreed that she defrauded an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor and New York resident she met through a dating app out of $2.8 million, federal prosecutors said.
The multi-year fraud by Peaches Stergo, 36, cost the elderly man his entire life savings. At the same time, the woman lived a life of luxury, which included a home in a gated community, a Corvette, exclusive vacations, and designer items such as Rolex watches, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement.
Specifically, the victim wrote 62 checks totaling nearly $3 million that went directly into Stergo’s bank accounts, ultimately losing his apartment.
In early 2017, after the woman met the man on a dating site and asked him to lend her money to pay her attorney, who indicated he refused to disburse funds from an injury settlement.
Stergo claimed the funds were deposited into a TD Bank account, but evidence suggests she did not receive a single penny from an alleged injury settlement.
After four and a half years, the woman was stealing and/or scamming the elderly Holocaust man out of everything, the New York Post reported.
She had demanded that the man deposit money into his accounts because, if he did not, they would be frozen, and the elderly man would not be able to get back any of the money he loaned her, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Prosecutors said she also continued to transfer money into the two accounts from Stergo, who created a fake email account and fake invoices that were supposed to be from a TD Bank employee.
The woman pleaded guilty to wire fraud and faced up to 20 years in prison. In addition, she was ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution, forfeit the same amount, and return more than 100 luxury items, including designer clothing, handbags, and numerous jewelry pieces.
“Peaches Stergo stole the life savings of an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor only looking for companionship. This conduct is sickening and sad,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Thanks to the hard work of the FBI and this Office, Stergo is being held accountable for her fraud.”
The woman also purchased a boat and a Corvette luxury sports car. The luxury items included brands such as Tiffany. Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.
Stergo will be sentenced on July 27th.